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Letters to the Editor: I coached kids’ soccer. Here’s how I got parents to behave

Sportswomen stand in a circle with arms linked around waists.
A team huddle before a high school women’s soccer game in early 2020.
(James Carbone / Daily Pilot )
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To the editor: In the early 1990s, I coached my young son’s AYSO soccer team. At the first practice, I gathered all the parents and told them my rules for everyone to follow (“Angry parents are ruining youth sports. Here’s how to rein them in,” Opinion, April 25).

These were, in no order of importance:

  • There will be a fixed rotation, which I will set before the first game, so that every child will play in every game, and every child will play in every position at least once during the season.
  • Parents will not call out their child’s name during a game.
  • When the opponents score, parents will applaud politely. When our team scores, please feel free to go wild.
  • No one will address any remarks to the referee. If there is need for a discussion with a referee, I will do it.
  • If any parent breaks these rules, I will immediately pull their child from the game.

I had to pull only three kids from games before the parents realized I was serious and became supportive. We won some games, lost some games, but won the award for “best and fairest” team three years in a row. The kids enjoyed their pizza and video game rewards, and I had parents asking to have their children on my team.

Lawrence Pane, Burbank

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To the editor: At the beginning of the sports season, each team’s coaches should advise all the parents that any violence or profanity toward referees will result in them being prohibited from attending their children’s games until after they have completed volunteer referee training and actually volunteered as a referee in their community.

This would likely deter this kind of behavior, as the most badly behaved parents also tend to be the least willing to volunteer. It’d also help them to see things from a referee’s perspective.

Ann Payson, Santa Monica

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To the editor: In olden times in our San Gabriel Valley community, all elementary schools and parks were open after school and in summer with supervision. We could check out a ball and play to our heart’s desire.

We chose teams, made up the rules and played any game we could dream up for hours on end. No scoreboard, no coaches, no umps or refs, no parents. If we got a bruise, we rubbed it; it we got a scrape, we washed it off in a drinking fountain.

If we struck out or dropped a pass, no Tommy Lasorda wannabe yelled at us. They was no groan from the grandstand. A home run or a touchdown was pure joy for its own sake. Play was unadulterated fun.

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Sadly, those halcyon days are gone forever. Therefore, it is incumbent upon youth league parents, coaches and officials to remain true to the spirit of play while developing a healthy attitude toward competition.

Remember, these are youth sports, not showcases for parents’ ambitions.

Dave Sanderson, La Cañada Flintridge

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